Disney parades are not just parades; they are experiences and you should ensure you see at least one daytime parade and one night-time parade. Disney creates new parades and recycles older ones on a fairly regular basis. As a company which knows full well the immense selling power of nostalgia, they ensure that demand for each offering is matched precisely to the pangs of regret engendered by missing the old favourites. The two nighttime parades which appear in DLP are Main Street Electrical Parade. (currently retired) or the amazing Fantillusion. Check times but they're usually at 3.00 p.m. and 9.00 p.m.. A good place to see them whilst sitting down used to be from the balcony on the Railway station at Main street but they've now moved the benches. Otherwise simply sit down on the pavement in the centre of Main street. I know it seems a waste of good riding time but, believe me, you'll never forgive yourself if you don't see at least one of these astonishing parades. Main Street's sound system is so sophisticated that the experience is almost overwhelming. One other point; you can watch from anywhere behind a rope barrier so don't be put off if there's no one else there. Traditionally, the town square is the last place to fill up and you can usually get a good speck there about ten minutes before.
When, under Michael Eisner, the Ex-Disney CEO and miracle worker who is generally credited with having turned Disney around in the early 80s, Disney was looking for a European site the choice was between Spain and France. Spain had everything going for it - established tourist industry, the weather, sympathetic government, the weather, good air links, the weather...
Paris, however, had two major points in its favour; an extremely good position- almost in the centre of Europe and a large expanse of flat, featureless land. Disney has never wanted people to be drawn away from its parks by beautiful countryside neither has it wanted anything to interfere with the theme park experience. Also, the French government was willing to 'make it worthwhile' for Disney to build in Marne la Valee. For a more detailed account of the first ten years of the resort's fortunes, click here!
But why should you choose Paris Disney?
Basically, it's a better theme park than the Magic Kingdom in Florida. Disney have learnt from Disneyland, WDW's Magic Kingdom and Tokyo Disneyland and have created something rather special in Disneyland Paris. Besides being physically the largest Park of the four, it has a number of intimate little paths and hidden corners on much the same lines as those which imbue the Californian park with such charm. The rides are, of course, technologically more recent (Pirates of the Caribbean is much superior to its WDW cousin) and, owing to the different safety legislation in France, you don't have the illusion in the 'darker' rides spoilt by seeing little red 'Exit' signs! It's also achieved a European flavour, has fewer controls than the States (probably because the Paris natives don't listen to anyone!) and is a more up to date, intimate park than Florida overall. Besides which, if you hate long flights in economy class, then it's only an hour away!
The most compelling reason, however, has to be the addition of the Walt Disney Studios, making Disneyland Paris the first Disney theme park in the World (outside of the States) to have a second theme Park (unfortunately, Disneyland in Anaheim beat Paris by seven months, but their second park isn't in the same league as the new Studios). The WD Studios, with the acquisition of the Hollywood Tower of Terror has now grown up as a theme park, however, and figures show that the visitors are once more streaming through the gates. This astonishingly designed freefall lift (or elevator for the Americans) ride which currently features as the biggest draw in Florida's theme parks, is quite simply one of the finest ride experiences in the world. The other excellent reason has to be the Val d'Europe shopping complex.
The Disney System and how to survive it!
Beating the system
The Disney cast members are trained to a much higher standard than you might expect. There's almost an evangelical element to their approach, so dedicated to the ideal are some. However, the Paris team have created possibly the best example of customer service in all the Disney Parks around the world. Cast members are usually unfailingly cheerful, positive and determined to make your visit unique. There are inevitably exceptions - the occasional individual who sneers at the entire philosophy and the odd cast members who would clearly be better off working for the CIA, but generally, their attention to detail and approach to their job is better than other Disney Parks. The smile on your child's face when a Pirate addresses them directly in character, or the readiness of a courtier to take a family photo are the differences that make a stay in the resort unforgettable.
Very important: Disney sometimes operates an early entry policy for its hotel guests. Any advantage you might gain by following this guide will be destroyed if the hotel guests have early entry privileges on the day you visit so be sure to telephone the park the day before you plan to come to ascertain which days, if any, Disney Hotel guests have that privilege and avoid those days like the plague!!On the other hand, if you're actually staying at a Disney Hotel (by far the best idea, anyway) you will be given a hotel ID card. This unprepossessing little card is very important. Besides being able to charge absolutely anything you buy back to your hotel room one exceptionally useful function of the card is to allow you to enter the Disneyland hotel grounds early in the morning while they're still shut to day trippers (these grounds act as the entrance to the park as well as the hotel grounds). Disney make the day trippers and non-hotel guests line up at these imposing gates. You can walk through simply by brandishing your ID card and shouting "Excuse moi" or something equally inane.Why stay on site?Because you're more part of the magic than if you commute in. And Disney hotels take some beating...especially if you're a child aged between 7 and 92.
Watch out for the incredible attention to detail Disney lavish on absolutely everything. If you think Disneyland is only for kids and rides, think again. When you enter Disneyland Park, you take a break from reality and enter a world of detailed fantasy, a living, breathing work of art where billions of pounds have been spent in order to place you at the centre of a dream. Is it fantastic? Yes, it is, and no matter how much of a hard bitten cynic you may think yourself, be prepared to have your preconceptions routed.
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